For the Students

The campus advances a performance improvement plan geared toward greater access and success.

Student interns at the Center for Policy Research at Rockefeller College, mid row, left to right, Jona Hoxha, Alejandro Castro-Reina, Charmaine Wilson-Jones, and Kady Arthur, gather with Center Director Victor Asal, lower left, and Karl Rethemeyer, interim dean of the College.

ALBANY, N.Y. (February 8, 2016) — UAlbany’s plan to increase enrollment to 20,000 by 2020 centers on a theme — do it for the benefit of the students.

The University’s alignment with SUNY Excels, an initiative supporting the efforts of each SUNY campus to operate at peak performance, focuses on access, degree completion and post-graduation success.

“This means we have to be not only bigger, but better,” said James Stellar, UAlbany provost and senior VP for Academic Affairs.

The increase will result from greater enrollment of international and out-of-state students and the expansion of UAlbany’s highly successful Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). EOP’s students have first-year retention rates 12 percent above the overall freshman cohort on campus, and a six-year graduation rate five percent higher.

“EOP is also one of the major ways we reinforce our commitment to access and to diversity,” said Stellar.

He noted that the one commitment — to increased enrollment via greater access — will necessarily be followed by another — greater retention and ultimately, degree completion. The strategy to achieve this goal is being nurtured by the UAlbany Advantage, a series of personalized support systems developed with Student Affairs, led by Vice President Michael Christakis. This approach allows faculty and staff to bring early outreach and intervention to students in academic distress coupled with high-impact educational practices.

Additionally, UAlbany will use big data analytics to identify at-risk students early and act to help them before they decide to leave. The effort is supported, in part, by $1.5 million grant from SUNY’s Performance Investment Fund.

He pointed to an enhanced freshman writing program, whose class size average has dropped from about 26 to 19, and also expansion of the University’s Living-Learning Communities. The writing program advances freshman in writing and critical inquiry, while the small academic settings of Living-Learning further connectedness to the intellectual life of the campus.

The completion strategy quickly melds into another: Success. “Through UAlbany Advantage and other programs we get new students adjusted to UAlbany, but then we begin to work on helping them find directions for their futures” said Stellar.

“We follow the freshman efforts into the sophomore year with ‘Applied Learning,’” said Stellar, referring to the umbrella of University programs that develop analytic inquiry, active learning, real-world problem-solving, and innovation. These include internships, practicums, field projects, undergraduate research, community service and study abroad programs.

“We want our students to develop strong supportive, intellectually based relationships with their faculty, and the faculty to become mentors, supplementing Career Services in guiding our students to success after graduation.”

The Provost stressed that the University’s focus upon Access, Completion and Success will not distance the campus from another goal of SUNY Excels: Inquiry. UAlbany’s Excels plan calls for a substantial increase in sponsored research activity, with expenditures climbing from $131 million in 2014 to $232 million by 2020.

“We are an excellent institution with great faculty, and we can do better,” said Stellar. “And in doing so we will enhance the student experience. We will generate knowledge so that we can disseminate greater knowledge to our students.”

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciencesbusiness, public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.